News in Brief: Week of May 16-20

May 18, 2011 06:00 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

House Committee Approves Medical Liability Bill

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has approved a measure that would reform the nation's medical liability system by capping awards and attorney fees while modifying the statute of limitations for malpractice claims.

The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Phil Gingrey, M.D., R-Ga., and supported by the AAFP, would provide a three-year statute of limitations for malpractice claims that starts as soon as an injury is discovered. It also would cap noneconomic damages at $250,000 and would create a safe harbor from punitive damages for manufacturers and distributors of FDA-approved medical products.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill, H.R. 5, could reduce the federal deficit by $62 billion during the next 10 years. The House Judiciary Committee approved the same measure on March 17, and it now appears as though the bill is headed to the full House for debate.

Research Shows Physicians Balk at Using E-Prescribing Systems

The Center for Studying Health System Change recently released a research brief that highlights findings from a qualitative study of 24 physician practices that are using electronic prescribing systems.

Although e-prescribing provides benefits to physicians and their patients, the report, titled "Physician Practices, E-Prescribing and Accessing Information to Improve Prescribing Decisions(," highlights barriers that prevent physicians from using such systems.

For example, physicians indicated that some e-prescribing systems are so cumbersome that the information extracted -- such as patient formulary information -- is not useful enough to warrant the effort expended.

The research was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

USPSTF Reaffirms Testicular Cancer Screening Recs

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, or USPSTF, has reaffirmed its 2004 recommendation( against screening for testicular cancer. The USPSTF said that a review found no new evidence that screening with clinical examination or self-examination is effective in reducing mortality from testicular cancer.

The AAFP adopted the recommendation after a review by the Academy's Commission on Health of the Public and Science.

The USPSTF said that given the relatively low prevalence of testicular cancer, limited accuracy of screening tests, and no evidence for the incremental benefits of screening, it concluded that the potential harms of screening -- including false-positive results, anxiety, and harms from diagnostic tests or procedures -- exceed any potential benefits. The task force also said that more than 90 percent of all newly diagnosed cases of testicular cancer will be cured, regardless of the stage of disease.